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Cessna expresses commitment to SkyCatcher program for Light Sport Aircraft market

Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, said today it is fully committed to the Model 162 SkyCatcher program despite two incidents experienced during the flight test program.

"The need for a modern, cost-effective two-seat trainer aircraft has never been greater, and we believe we are well positioned to meet that need," said Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack J. Pelton. "The SkyCatcher program is an important part of our strategy," he added.

Cessna has produced more than 192,000 aircraft over the past 82 years, including the classic 150/152 and 172 models which have been the backbone of flight training for decades.

In the most recent incident on March 19, Pelton said the aircraft was undergoing a very aggressive spin test regime - power on and cross-controlled - when it entered a spin that was not immediately recoverable. This spin test was one of more than 500 flown to date using various combinations of center-of-gravity positions, power settings, flap settings and control inputs. The pilot deployed the airframe parachute in accordance with the flight test procedure and emerged from the aircraft unhurt after it touched down.

Last September, an earlier test aircraft was destroyed when the pilot parachuted to safety after being unable to recover during aggressive spin testing.

"We test all our aircraft well beyond the limits of what is expected in normal operation. By the time a Cessna aircraft enters service we have the highest degree of confidence in the design, flight characteristics, manufacture and quality of the aircraft," Pelton said, adding that company engineers have obtained valuable data on the crashworthiness of the aircraft and the operation of the Ballistic Recovery System (BRS) airframe parachute as a result of the two incidents. The BRS is offered as an option on the SkyCatcher.

"We are making every effort to minimize the impact on deliveries to our customers," he said.

The SkyCatcher is a two-seat Light Sport Aircraft powered by a 100 horsepower Continental O-200 engine. The program was launched in 2007.

Press release issued by Cessna Aircraft Company on March 25, 2009


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